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The Classic First Amendment Tradition Under Stress: Freedom of Speech and the University

29 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2017  

Robert Post

Yale Law School

Date Written: September 28, 2017

Abstract

This forthcoming chapter in a book to be edited by Lee Bollinger and Geoffrey Stone scrutinizes the frequently-heard claim that universities are suppressing the “First Amendment” rights of students, faculty, and invited speakers. The chapter argues that this claim rests on a fundamental misconception about the nature of First Amendment rights, which apply to public discourse and are designed to establish preconditions for democratic self-determination. Speech at universities, by contrast, must be regulated to attain the ends of education. Debates about the proper regulation of campus speech are thus ultimately debates about the nature of education, not about First Amendment rights. The overblown and misleading constitutional rhetoric of these debates is symptomatic of a larger debasement of our understanding of the nature of free speech protections, a debasement that could seriously undermine the strength of Free Speech principles when we actually need to call upon them to do serious work to protect the integrity of our political system.

Keywords: constitutional law, first amendment, freedom of speech, universities, education

Suggested Citation

Post, Robert, The Classic First Amendment Tradition Under Stress: Freedom of Speech and the University (September 28, 2017). Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 619. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3044434

Robert Post (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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